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Lata Pada, the artistic director of Sampradaya Dance Creations, is an important leader in South Asian dance in Canada. As a choreographer and performer, she is a noted exponent of the classical Indian dance form of bharata natyam. Pada is strongly committed to presenting bharata natyam as a world art form with contemporary relevance.
Born in Bangalore, India, Pada studied bharata natyam from age eight. She trained under master teachers Kalaimamani Kalyanasundaram and Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan. At age 13, Pada gave her solo debut recital known as the arangetram.
Pada's career as a soloist began in 1965, the year after she immigrated to Canada. At this time, her work was largely traditional. However, when she lived in Indonesia for several years, Pada became interested in cross-cultural collaboration and opened up her choreography to other influences. On her return to Canada in 1979, Pada's solo dances featured bharata natyam in a traditional form and in a more contemporary style.
In 1990, Pada founded Sampradaya Dance Creations in Toronto, Ontario, and Sampradaya Dance Academy in nearby Mississauga. Sampradaya Dance Creations presents a range of solo and ensemble choreography in both a classical and contemporary repertoire. The company is also engaged in education and community outreach.
Revealed By Fire (2001), Pada's most acclaimed choreographic work, is a multimedia dance/theatre production performed at its premiere by Pada and five dancers from her company. It is based on Pada's tragic loss of her husband and two daughters in the 1985 Air India mid-air explosion from terrorism. Artistic contributors include South Asian composer R.A. Ramamani and, from Canada, composer Timothy Sullivan, photographer Cylla von Tiedemann and playwright Judith Rudakoff.